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COVID-19 UPDATES

COVID-19 LADY GOWRIE TASMANIA CEO COMMUNICATIONS
COVID-19 UPDATE AND HEALTH AUTHORITY LINKS

Dear Families, Colleagues and Friends

Lady Gowrie Tasmania has been in regular contact with the relevant public health authorities and regulators at both Federal and State level to seek the most current information in respect of the COVID-19 virus.

The organisation has developed a COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan and associated COVID-19 Action Plan. This plan includes the heightening of hygiene practices, suspension of child excursions to aged care facilities, review process for excursions generally to minimise risk in public spaces and requirements for isolation as advised by health authorities should that action become necessary.

The Tasmanian Government Department of Health’s most current advice for the community is as follows:

1. Stay informed. The Australian Government Department of Health website has detailed information and is being updated as the COVID-19 situation develops.

HEALTH.GOV – NCOV Health Alert

2. Practise good hygiene to protect against infection and prevent the virus spreading. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm, running water, cover sneezes and coughs and encourage social distancing where possible.

HEALTH.GOV – What you need to know about Coronavirus

3. Call for advice. If you think you may have COVID-19, due to recent travel or contact with a confirmed case, then please contact the Tasmanian Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 for further advice.

DHHS – Communicable Diseases Prevention Unit

A national hotline has been established for general information about COVID-19. Please contact the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 for any general enquiries or health concerns.

Please be assured that Lady Gowrie Tasmania is undertaking all the essential steps to minimise any risk to children, families, learners, clients and employees and commits to continued communication as information regarding COVID-19 comes to hand.

Ros Cornish
Chief Executive Officer
16/3/2020

HOW TO TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

As our conversations and newsfeeds focus almost entirely on the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, it is important to comfort and protect our children, follow normal routines and give them the opportunity to express their feelings.

Below are two useful articles and tips for families and educators on how to talk to children about COVID-19:

UNICEF – How to talk to your children about Coronavirus

CDC – Talking with Children

Lady Gowrie Tasmania – ‘Children First’

  • COVID19 – Update 7

    Dear Families

    As the COVID-19 issue escalates with increased directives from Governments to support the management and response of the virus, for Lady Gowrie Tasmania education and care services we continue to operate until directed otherwise.

    Whilst some families have expressed that the services should close the Australian Health Principal Protection Committee at this point has not recommended closure and this advice has been the basis for the Tasmanian Government decision to continue school and childcare operations.

    Staffing

    Some families have chosen to withdraw children for precautionary reasons. The impact of withdrawal will result in some of our workforce being deployed to other programs or services. We will certainly be very cognisant of ensuring that children and families continue to have familiar educators providing education and care but there may be times when an educator from another Gowrie service will be covering planned leave as opposed to the casual relief pool. This flexibility is much appreciated.

    Vacation Care Programs

    With vacation care program due to commence immediately after the Easter break, at this point the programs will go ahead as planned. Whilst there are changes to the advertised program due to the limitation of access to external entertainment venues the teams have worked to support the development of a fun filled program for children.

    Absences

    Should any family withdraw their child totally or make use of the government 42 days allowable absences (per child per year) provision please advise the respective service. This assists with data collection required by government and supports ensuring staffing rosters reflect utilisation.

    Management and Response

    Heightened hygiene practices continue to be a priority. Whilst spatial distancing is not possible when caring and responding to the needs of young children, we are doing what is reasonably possible to support this requirement. Our staff are very much aware of the need to do this in communal areas such as offices and staff rooms.
    Minimising access to services by visitors and contractors has been undertaken, along with suspension of all excursions and incursions for children. We now seek support from families to ask if possible one family member take responsibility for leaving/collecting their child from the service.

    Communication

    The organisation will continue to provide updates to families as further information becomes available. Such information will also be available on the organisation’s website, Facebook and Storypark. We will endeavour not the repeat information provided previously.

    Talking with children about COVID-19

    Children are naturally curious and inquisitive, so asking questions about the virus is inevitable. The Tasmanian Government have developed a good resource to support educators and families talk with children about COVID-19. The link is:

    https://publicdocumentcentre.education.tas.gov.au/Documents/Coronavirus-Talking-to-your-Child-Parent-FactSheet.pdf

    Thank you to the many families who have contacted individual services to express their gratitude and appreciation for all the work being undertaken and the continued communication.
    It is certainly challenging times for everyone, and the uncertainty weighs heavily on all of us.

    Take good care

    Ros Cornish

    Chief Executive Officer

    24 March 2020

    • COVID19 – Update 6

      Dear Families and Staff,

      I write to provide a further update to the everchanging developments and situation as the country responds to and manages the COVID-19 pandemic.
      Yesterday, the Premier of Tasmania announced strict new border measures ruling out all non-essential travellers entering the state, including mainland Australia, will be forced into quarantine for 14 days with severe penalties for non-compliance. This decision is welcomed as a further approach to protecting Tasmanians from this dreaded virus.

      As previously indicated, Lady Gowrie Tasmania will follow the advice provided by the public health authorities and the relevant governments in order to support the health of children, families, clients, learners and our staff.

      In terms of childcare, at this point it is business as usual, albeit with a great number of changed practices that have been referred to in previous communiques. To date, despite the high demand within the community, we have been able to secure goods to support provision of meals/snacks for children and increased hygiene practices.

      Some families have voluntarily withdrawn their children from care for precautionary reasons. Of course, we fully support family choice but ask that should this decision be made please advise the relevant service so as we can ensure our services are staffed appropriately and plan with our casual staff team.

      Naturally, we are very cognisant of the impact on our people if withdrawal from care increases or worst-case scenario there is closure. The organisation is working to develop plans for all scenarios – continued operations, partial downturn and temporary closure, to support our children, families, staff and community. Any of these scenarios will be based on current advice and direction from the relevant authorities.

      Whilst our conversations and newsfeeds focus almost entirely on the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, it is important to comfort and protect our children, follow the normal routines and give them the opportunity to express their feelings. A couple of useful articles and tips for families and educators on how to talk to children about COVID-19 available at:

      UNICEF – How to talk to your children about Coronavirus

      CDC – Talking with Children

      Attached to this communique are several user-friendly resources developed by the Tasmanian Health Department:

      • Handwashing
      • Hotline Contact Details
      • Self-Assessment Tool
      • Protecting Yourself

      To those families and friends who have sent messages of support and appreciation to our people, thank you sincerely – your thoughtfulness is so highly valued now more than ever. We are in this together, we need to remain calm and collaborate to do whatever is required to protect children, families, clients, learners and staff.

      Sincerely,

      Ros Cornish

      Chief Executive Officer

      20 March 2020

      • COVID19 – Update 5

        Dear Families and Staff

        Lady Gowrie Tasmania continues to commit to helping to reduce the risk of infection or contagion for all children, families, employees and clients, as well as to the general public. This is done by adopting policies and procedures recommended or directed by Federal and Tasmanian public health. work safety authorities and Tasmanian Department of Education.

        As an organisation we take children’s families and our employees’ health and safety seriously. Therefore, the COVID-19 precaution measures are constantly being reviewed throughout each day based on the Federal and State authority’s advice.

        Understandably, there is an amount of hysteria in the community however we encourage everyone to keep up to date with credible information, engage in respectful open conversations and for the sake of children’s emotional wellbeing, remain calm.

        It is vital that our people feel safe in the workplace and therefore although we understand families are concerned, the organisation will not tolerate abusive and behaviour towards any employees. These individuals are working diligently not only continue to provide quality education and care services to children, retain relationships with families, support their respective teams but also oversee the implementation of additional health and safety strategies.

        Lady Gowrie Tasmania services are highly regulated and have extensive infectious disease policies in place. As an organisation, we have increased the hygiene processes to an intensive level, including supervision of children’s handwashing, sanitisers available for people entering and leaving the services, additional cleaning services being undertaken. We also rely on families to self-disclose when and if they meet any of the risk factors identified by the Australian Government and Tasmanian Public Health Authority.

        When and indeed if a case of COVID-19 is confirmed in a service we will act swiftly, communicate immediately with families and staff and the directives of the public health authorities followed. We ask that individuals do not attend our services if you have been in contact with a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, or if experiencing any symptoms.

        UPDATED INFORMATION RE INTERNATIONAL ARRIVALS TO TASMANIA

        In line with the Australian Government announcement all international arrivals into Australia from midnight Sunday, 15 March 2020, are required to self-isolate for 14 days. This includes people having travelled internationally en route to Tasmania. A person in isolation cannot attend public places, including work; the supermarket; school; childcare or university). If international arrivals start experiencing a temperature and flu-like symptoms, please contact the Tasmanian Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738. If symptoms become more severe, like difficulty breathing, call Triple Zero (000) and ask for an ambulance. Tell the ambulance officers you are in self isolation due to recent international travel. In many cases people who contract the coronavirus recover easily and only experience mild symptoms however you can help reduce the spread of illness. Help slow the spread of viral illnesses by washing your hands often with soap and water and using a tissue or your elbow to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.

        We seek your support in modelling good handwashing practices at home, continue to follow advice from the relevant authorities, be cognisant of the amount of information your child is exposed to given the extensive media coverage, listen and respond appropriately to questions raised by your child.

        Information to support families talking to their child about COVID-19 is available on the organisation’s Facebook page and website. Regular updates will be provided to families and staff and provided via our social media outlets, website and Storypark.

        The current situation is evolving, and we are facing unchartered territory for our organisation, a nation and as individuals.

        Along with the Board of Directors we are continually monitoring the situation but protection of children, staff and the broader community remains our overriding priority.

        Take care in these incredibly challenging times of uncertainty.

        Sincerely
        Ros Cornish
        Chief Executive Officer
        18 March 2020

      • COVID19 – Update 4

        Dear Families

        The situation being faced in our country and indeed the world in respect of COVID-19 is unprecedented. I write to you to provide an update on Lady Gowrie Tasmania’s response noting that each day brings new information and developments.

        The health and safety of children, families, staff, learners, clients and the broader community is a priority. While the risks in Tasmania of contracting COVID-19 remains low, the risk of increased person to person transmission increases. To this end, Lady Gowrie Tasmania need to ensure we are doing all we can to keep people safe and reduce the spread of infection in our community.

        SERVICE DELIVERY

        So far, the advice from the public health authorities and relevant government agencies is that we need to operate as usual in respect of education and care services. Of course, the organisation will follow the advice and instructions as they emerge – which is on a daily basis. Should the situation change then the organisations Pandemic Response Plan will be implemented.

        HEALTH AND HYGIENE PRACTICES

        Since the pandemic emerged, Lady Gowrie Tasmania has heightened health and hygiene practices at all sites. To date, we have been able to access regular supplies of goods that support this process. Staff have been constantly reminded of the need to actively encourage and supervise children with hand washing practices, covering coughs and sneezes, disposal of single use tissues etc.

        GATHERINGS OF PEOPLE

        In line with national guidelines limiting static gatherings of large numbers of people, Lady Gowrie Tasmania has already cancelled, or postponed major events. Staff meetings and centre manager meetings will be suspended until further notice. Alternate methods of communication will be implemented to support these functions.

        SHARED SPACES

        Public Health advice is that shared spaces such as work areas, reception, staff rooms, communal kitchens, meeting/planning rooms do not present a heightened risk at present and remain accessible to staff. In doing so it is imperative that the essential steps recommended by health authorities in respect of health and hygiene are followed by all accessing these spaces. Whilst many of these spaces are not accessed by children and families, it is important to note our approach at this time.

        EMPLOYEE TRAVEL

        Whilst it is rare for the organisation to have international travel – no international travel will be authorised. Interstate travel will only be undertaken if essential and will require approval. Intrastate travel is unlikely at this point but will be approved on a case by case basis. This decision minimises the risk to children, families and colleagues.

        EXCURSIONS/INCURSIONS

        As directed last week excursions are suspended to:

        1. Aged care facilities are suspended

        2. Environments that are considered higher risk – large gatherings of people in an area

        Incursions: visitors/performers engaged must complete a health statement regarding recent travel or contact with people who have travelled (as per the government requirements) prior to their engagement.

        DISCLOSURE

        The organisation is relying on staff/families to disclose any contact with others as advised by the public health authorities. This includes self-isolation for 14 days if travelled internationally from 15/3/2020.

        GENERAL HEALTH

        As it is the case with any absences from work due to illness, staff have been reminded that if they are unwell, they should seek medical advice re treatment and any required exclusion from work. This applies to child illness also. If a staff person or child is unwell with other general illnesses, it is important when communicating with the service to be clear about the reason for the absence so as not to confuse the issue with the serious COVID-19. With the current situation it is more imperative than ever that all of us take care of our own health as well as that of others.

        GOVERNMENT REQUIREMENTS FOR CHILD ABSENCES – FEES

        The Australian Government has provided information on the above to all services nationally. When a service is open and a child is actually ill or not, including where the non-attendance is part of the family’s own precautionary measure against potential contact with COVID-19, Child Care Subsidy can be paid for up to 42 absence days per child, per financial year, without the need for families to provide documentation.

        Once a child’s 42 initial absences have been used, Child Care Subsidy can be paid for additional absences as outlined in Family Assistance Law. This includes illness and requires the service to retain evidence of the additional absence claimed e.g. doctors’ certificate.

        When a service is closed (as advised by the relevant authority) due to COVID-19, as the service is unable to provide care, attendance reports cannot be submitted to the Child Care Subsidy System and families cannot be charged fees.

        GENERAL

        It is imperative that we continue to follow strict hygiene practices consistently, both at home and in the workplace. It is also important not to add to the serious issues being faced by false information and hysteria. We all need to be kept informed with accurate information, remain calm, and importantly focused on supporting children.

        As new information comes to hand, be assured you will be kept informed. In the meantime, take good care.

        Ros Cornish

        Chief Executive Officer

        17/3/20

        Lady Gowrie Tasmania – ‘Children First’.

      • COVID19 – Update 3

        Dear Families, Colleagues and Friends

        Lady Gowrie Tasmania has been in regular contact with the relevant public health authorities and regulators at both Federal and State level to seek the most current information in respect of the COVID-19 virus.

        The organisation has developed a COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan and associated COVID-19 Action Plan. This plan includes the heightening of hygiene practices, suspension of child excursions to aged care facilities, review process for excursions generally to minimise risk in public spaces and requirements for isolation as advised by health authorities should that action become necessary.

        The Tasmanian Government Department of Health’s most current advice for the community is as follows:

        1. Stay informed. The Australian Government Department of Health website has detailed information and is being updated as the COVID-19 situation develops.

        https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert

        2. Practise good hygiene to protect against infection and prevent the virus spreading. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm, running water, cover sneezes and coughs and encourage social distancing where possible.

        https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/what-you-need-to-know-about-coronavirus-covid-19#protect-yourself-and-others

        3. Call for advice. If you think you may have COVID-19, due to recent travel or contact with a confirmed case, then please contact the Tasmanian Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 for further advice.

        https://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/publichealth/communicable_diseases_prevention_unit/infectious_diseases/coronavirus

        A national hotline has been established for general information about COVID-19. Please contact the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 for any general enquiries or health concerns.

        Please be assured that Lady Gowrie Tasmania is undertaking all the essential steps to minimise any risk to children, families, learners, clients and employees and commits to continued communication as information regarding COVID-19 comes to hand.

        Ros Cornish
        Chief Executive Officer
        16/3/2020
        Lady Gowrie Tasmania – ‘Children First’.

      • COVID19 – Update 2

        Dear Families and Colleagues

        As per my previous communication regarding the novel coronavirus virus that was recently identified in China, an update has been provided by the Tasmanian Department of Education, Education and Care Unit (ECU).

        The ECU are receiving regular advice from the Commonwealth and Tasmanian Departments of Health about the virus and implications for our communities, including education and care services.

        At this point in time, there are no confirmed cases in Tasmania. There is no need for alarm. What is recommended is to take advice from the relevant health agencies and take appropriate precautionary measures.

        Consistent with national advice, the ECU recommends that:

        1. Those who have been in contact with any confirmed novel coronavirus case should not attend school or childcare and remain isolated in their homes for 14 days following exposure

        2. Those who have recently visited Hubei Province in China should not attend school or childcare and remain isolated in their homes for 14 days after leaving Hubei Province

        3. Those who have departed mainland China and arrived in Australia on or after the 1st of February should not attend school or childcare and remain isolated in their homes for 14 days after leaving China

        4. Those who arrived in Australia from mainland China (other than Hubei Province) before 1st February can attend school or childcare, as long as they are well.

        The Department has produced a poster and information sheet relating to novel coronavirus and how to practice safe hand washing hygiene. The poster and information sheet will be available at all Lady Gowrie Tasmania sites.

        Along with the State Government Department of Education, the Australian Government Department of Education are providing regular updates to the sector about novel coronavirus. Factsheets in English for schools and early childhood education and care services and parents are available online.

        If you or someone you know are unsure about novel coronavirus, or have other specific questions, please call the Tasmanian Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738.

        If a child attending education and care or an educator/staff member (or their family member/s) are unwell and have travelled to China in the last 14 days, please call the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 for advice.

        If serious symptoms develop, such as shortness of breath, call 000 and ask for an ambulance. Inform the paramedics of any recent travel. If novel coronavirus is suspected, tests will need to be done. Your doctor and Public Health will provide advice on managing the condition.

        If anyone has a suspected case of novel coronavirus and is advised by public health or a health professional that they remain isolated, please advise a Lady Gowrie Tasmania representative who will in turn make the necessary notifications to the relevant authorities.

        Up-to-date information is available by visiting the Commonwealth Department of Health and the Tasmanian Department of Health websites. Lady Gowrie Tasmania will continue to provide updates to families and staff as they come to hand.

        Ros Cornish
        Chief Executive Officer
        Lady Gowrie Tasmania – ‘Children First’.

      • COVID19 – Update 1

        Dear Families and Colleagues,

        Lady Gowrie Tasmania is heeding the advice provided by the Australian Government in respect of the Novel Coronavirus (also called 2019-nCov), a new strain of Coronavirus affecting humans.

        In response to current advice Lady Gowrie Tasmania will exclude any person (employee or child) who has travelled from mainland China within the past 14 days (mid-January). Similarly, any person (employee or child) who has been in close contact with a confirmed case of Novel Coronavirus will also be excluded.

        The exclusion period will be determined by current advice from public health authorities. Of course, any such action is reliant on families and employees to disclose of any travel and/or contact.
        Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence for any infection. Families and employees are reminded of the increased importance of consistent and good hygiene, especially frequent handwashing before and after eating, after attending the toilet and covering coughs and sneezes. Similarly, visitors to sites will be required to adhere to heightened hygiene practices.
        The organisation will continue to monitor the health and well-being of all families and employees and will provide regular updates in line with advice provided by health authorities.

        The Australian Government has provided factsheets for early childhood education and care services and families. These can be accessed on the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website link below:

        https://www.education.gov.au/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov

        Further information is also available by visiting the Australian Government Department of Health homepage or by contacting the state public health agency on 1800 671738.

        Ros Cornish
        Chief Executive Officer
        Lady Gowrie Tasmania – ‘Children First’.